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Liberals dump Trupti Desai after she tried to enter Haji Ali

Not more than a few weeks back, women’s rights activist Trupti Desai was grabbing hot seats at all prime-time news shows across channels to bash Hindu customs that differentiated between men and women at religious shrines. Those heated debates, which were moderated by “anxious” news anchors and boasted of participation from representatives of academia, religious organizations, media, political corridors and cinema, scrutinized every aspect of socio-religious structure of the Hindu society.

These debates, framed around the Manuwad and Brahmanical structure supposed to be prevalent in the modern Hindu society, drilled down to exclusive discussions on patriarchy and misogyny. Trupti Desai was countered by several arguments, which highlighted the cultural background for such disparities in certain sections of these religious sanctums. However, these arguments were vehemently trashed by many “intellectuals” on media and social media for lending an atrocious support to the patriarchal structure of Hindu society.

On April 1, the Bombay High Court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation challenging women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum of Maharashtra’s Shani Shingnapur temple, held that it was the fundamental right of women to enter places of worship and the government was duty-bound to protect it.

After scuffles and obstructions, Trupti Desai entered the inner section of Shani Temple that was prohibited for women for more than 400 years. Her entry in the Shani Temple was widely celebrated as the victory of equality – nationally as well as internationally.

Trupti Desai inside Shani Temple
The historic moment when Trupti became an icon

Excited with her victory, Trupti Desai soon announced that she will enter the inner section of Haji Ali – a widely visited mosque as well as a dargah (tomb) located in Mumbai – too, which is off limits for women. She would have certainly expected outrage and threats from the extremists, and she in fact received them too.

AIMIM leader Haji Rafat Husain was reported as saying that entering a graveyard is “haram” (forbidden) in Islam, and his party supporters will not let Desai enter the shrine’s sanctum sanctorum. He further added that he will smear the face of Ms Desai’s face with ink if she tried to enter the dargah’s sanctum sanctorum, even if he has to face arrest. Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat Shaikh announced that Ms Desai would be hit with slippers if she tried to enter the Dargah.

Despite police and legal support, Trupti couldn’t enter into Haji Ali. She had to go away.

However, Trupti would not have imagined that her step, which was no different from what she did at Hindu temples, will become an inflection point for many supporters of women’s rights and equality, for many opponents of patriarchy and misogyny, for many proponents of progressive and liberal thoughts in India.

Congress Social Media team member, who runs DrunkVinodMehta handle on twitter not only challenged Trupti’s move, but framed her a communal agent funded by BJP. Not long before this, Congress speakers were cheering for Trupti on news channels and social media.

Shoaib Daniyal, who frequently writes acidic articles on casteism in Hinduism for left leaning blog Scroll defended the prohibition of women in Dargah of on the grounds of casteism and elitism in Islam.

Many spearheads who led the “right to pray” discussions during the Shani Temple row suddenly opined that it was a matter of Muslim practice, Hindus should not interfere with it. Suddenly they started seeing it as “us versus them” issue? Isn’t that a “communal” thought?

Not only this lack of support, Trupti received an official complaint filed by a Muslim activist. As reported by DNA, he was reported as saying, “Desai is deliberately and purposely disturbing the religious environment of our country. Her constant interference in our religious matters with a motive to bring about change is evoking anger amongst our community members.”

I was discussing with a friend who actively opposed the prohibition of women in temples. I was condemning the silence of left and left-liberals on the Trupti Desai issue. Unlike her aggressive take on mysogyny in Hindusim, she mildly defended it by saying that Muslim society is evolving and it will take time. Instead of unequivocally supporting Desai, she started comparing differences of prohibition of women in Temples and Dargahs.

When the discussion became intense, she painted me as a male who would never understand problems of women because I belong to the privileged section of a patriarchal structure. Before ending the discussion, her generalizations hopped a step more and she boasted how unlike right-wing thinkers, she was not killing or jailing me for the disagreements. Maybe I should have also thanked her for not cutting off my legs or killing me in cold blood as left-wingers do, but I decided not to stoop to that level.

This is not the first time when my political and social discussions with left-leaning intelligent and educated (that’s what I assume about them) individuals have shaped into “you right-wing privileged section of a male dominated society wouldn’t understand this”. Many of my attempts to talk about lack of equal treatment for the same crime in different societies are conveniently framed as bigotry.

What irks me more is that most of my friends with left-leaning ideologies would never acknowledge the reformations in the Sanatan Dharma. Compare to how we were treating women during independence to now, Hindu societies have visibly evolved a lot. But no, the credit goes to a “secular” society. Then why is that secular society not willing to back Trupti with the same enthusiasm when she tries to enter Haji Ali?

Nonetheless, no one is discussing Trupti Desai, misogyny, and patriarchy after the Haji Ali incident.

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Rahul Raj
Poet. Engineer. Story Teller. Social Media Observer. Started Bhak Sala on facebook

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